Shop 'til you drop at Walmart
Wouldn't you know it, Walmart - always looking out for the consumer - doesn't just want us to save money/live better. They want us to save money/die better, too. Well, not exactly die better - as far as I know they're not (yet) selling Dr. Kevorkian Kits or End-of-Life drug supplies. But they are in the funerary business, big time.
I got wind of this in an AP article in yesterday's Globe, which reported that the good folks in Bentonville "quietly put up about 15 caskets and dozens of urns on its Web site last week."
This is not exactly a breakthrough. Costco, apparently, has already beaten them to the punch.
Naturally, I had to trek over to the ur(n) source and see for myself what was on offer, and was surprised that there were so many urn choices. Who knew there were so many different pet urns available? And in different sizes, by pet weight. There are different sizes for humans, too. Heartbreakingly, some urns are child-sized. (Although I don't have children of my own, I do believe that the worst thing that can happen to someone is the death of a child. But to me, the grief would be compounded by having to go online - Walmart, Costco, wherever - and click on a child urn selection. Some things are best left to the professionals, and I'd put purchasing an urn or casket for a child in this category.)
Most of the urns are (surprisingly enough) tasteful.
Some do have goofy names. Why would one call an urn a "Keepsake"?This strikes me as somewhat trivializing. Why not a bibelot?
And the "Sunrise Treasure Deluxe Memorial Chest with Urn". Ah, yes, what a treasure chest for someone - full of granny's ashes. And sunrise? Duh? I don't think the poem goes 'do not go gentle into that good sunrise.' Aren't we talking the ultimate nightfall here?
There aren't as many caskets as there are urns (and no pet caskets), but there was a reasonable selection (including a wide body model).
The caskets that I looked at all "contain memory tube", whatever that is. (Okay, I went to The Google and the memory tube is a sealed tube in which you can put in information on the deceased. For what purpose, I don't know. I really can't imagine that, in 2000 years, anyone will find it all that fascinating to unearth one of 2000 Joe Blows buried in the municipal cemetery. Today's average casket buyer is not exactly Imhotep. But, then again, I must remind myself that funeral matters are for those left behind, so if tucking in a tube full of stroll down memory lane info works, why not.)
My favorite casket name was the "Lovely in All Ways Stainless Steel Casket." Well, yes, lovely in all ways until a couple of years out when demented Uncle Bub starts talking about having poisoned the late Aunt Flora, and you have to do a bit of an exhumation. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust takes a while if you don't cremate. A long while. There's a lot of gucky stuff happening in the meantime that is in no way "lovely in all ways."
Other names I liked included the "Supreme Distinction". I hadn't realized that death was much of a supreme distinction. Not in the same way that, say, living forever might be. Then there was the "Executive Privilege", which comes not only with that ubiquitous memory tube, but also sports a "hand-knit silver velvet interior." Hand-knit? Hmmmmmm.
All of this is no different than you'd find in any funeral parlor, I'm quite sure. And, frankly, on the taste scale, I didn't find anything that compared to the emerald green casket with shamrock insert that was on display at the funeral parlor when we went to pick out my mother's casket. (We took a pass on that one. Too garish, too costly, and my mother was only Irish by marriage and motherhood.)
Before you go running off to buy a casket at Wally, I will warn you that they take 48 hours to ship, at which point they FedEx them. This puts it beyond the time frame that would work for most of the wakes and funerals I've been in on, unless, of course, you pre-purchased.
I can (and do) live without it, but Walmart really is America's general store, isn't it?